“I don’t need a seat,” laughed Dave easily, “for I’ve heard that the best Americans transact their business on their feet. Mr. Jetson, I’ve come on a somewhat embarrassing mission.”
“You know quite well the snarl that is to be untied before the class meeting Friday evening.”
“Quite well,” replied Jetson sulkily. “It is a situation that I owe to the fact of having been acquainted with yourself, Mr. Darrin.”
“Jetson,” resumed Dave, dropping the formal “Mr.”, “the situation is one that menaces you and your standing here. It menaces me equally. I could get myself out of the scrape quite easily by withdrawing from the stand that I took the other night.”
“I either fail or refuse to understand why you went to the risk that you did the other night, Mr. Darrin.”
“If I were to retract what I said,” Darrin added, “it would cause me to violate whatever respect I may have for right and justice. On the other hand, Jetson, surely you do not consider yourself right in refusing an apology for a remark in which you thoughtlessly cast an unjust reflection upon the whole body of midshipmen.”
“To what is this leading, Mr. Darrin?”
“Jetson, your own sense of honor and justice surely tells you that you owe it to yourself to go before the meeting Friday evening—”
“I shall not attend, Mr. Darrin. The class may take whatever action it chooses in my absence.”
“Jetson, you owe it to yourself, as well as to the class, to offer your apology for a remark that reflected upon the whole brigade. You can violate no feeling of honor or proper pride by such an apology. In fact, I do not see how you can justify yourself in withholding such apology for having expressed a sentiment which you know you did not mean in the way that the brigade has taken it.”
“My feelings on questions of honor cannot possibly concern you, Mr. Darrin.”
“On the contrary, your conduct does vitally concern me, Jetson. If you do not make your apology the class will—well, you know what will happen.”
“Yes, I know,” Jetson assented, his brow darkening.
“And possibly you know what it means to me. By my own statement—and I cannot, in honor retract it, I shall be compelled to share Coventry with you.”
“No, you won’t sir!” retorted Jetson, rising, his face ablaze with sulky anger. “You may go to Coventry, Mr. Darrin, and welcome, but you shall not share mine with me. You shall not share anything whatever with me—not even the air of this room if I can prevail upon you to take yourself out of a room where you are not wanted. Mr. Darrin, I indulge myself in the honor of wishing you—good evening!”
Jetson crossed the room, threw open the door and bowed low. Flushing, breathing quickly, Dave Darrin stepped out into the corridor and the door closed smartly behind him.